The January 2002 Pneuma Informer
In this Issue:
- David Driggs, the Pneuma Foundation Webmaster, has successfully configured a search utility on the www.PneumaFoundation.org website. Found in the upper right hand corner of every page, as of January 2 there are over 170,000 word search list items.
- On-line article from the Pneuma Review: Further Reading: Pentecostalism and Ecumenism from Amos Yong's important series "Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future" — added December 31, 2001
Also, be sure to check out the "What's New" section on the Pneuma Foundation homepage. New articles and other features are being added regularly.
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Reports from Around the World
Africa: A mile wide, but only an inch deep?
"Africa's church is like a shallow river: a mile wide, but only an inch deep," a quote attributed to English theologian John Stott, is no longer true, according to the African leaders. "Africa's spirituality and passion are impressive, and it depends on how we define depth," says Ngwiza Mnkandla. "The moment we copy Western models of church and leadership, we lose ourselves. When we accept our inheritance from God with dignity, the depth grows, and we see all sorts of indigenous breakthroughs." Christian leaders such as Dion Roberts in Abidjan lead churches with an attendance of 200,000. The Nairobi Lighthouse Church, founded by Don Matheny, has trained its members so well that literally everyone is able to lead people interested in Christianity to Jesus. The same day, pastors visit the new believers, often leading the whole family to Jesus and planting a house cell. The church has an attendance of around 6,000.
Source: Friday Fax 2002, Issue 2.
China and India: three reasons for church growth
The continued growth of Christian churches in China - mostly underground house churches - has something to do with three convictions widespread among Chinese Christians. The Chinese love the progression 'good, better, best', so the three mottoes are "It is good for a Christian to lead someone to Christ. It is better to plant a church. It is best to plant a church-planting movement," according to Steve Steele, CEO of Dawn Ministries. "Indian Christians have three similar convictions: every Christian can plant a church; every house can become a church; every church can become a Bible school."
Source: Steve Steele, DAWN Ministries
by way of Friday Fax 2001, Issue 48.
Malawi: The Jesus film on the mosque wall
Danie Vermeulen, previously a pastor in South Africa and now strategy advisor for church planting movements, reports of a church planter in Malawi who has planted 30 churches among the Yao, a predominantly Muslim tribe, in the last 30 years. Most of the churches were the result of 'power encounters' such as healing or deliverance from demonic powers.
"I recently saw 2,000 Muslims decide to follow Jesus," says Vermeulen. "We arrived in a Muslim village to show the Jesus film. There was not a single Christian family in the village. Our projection screen was too small, and the largest white wall in the village was that of the mosque. We asked the Imam, who granted us permission to show the Jesus film there. That evening, hundreds saw the film, and the Imam was the first to respond to the call to follow Jesus. So many were set free during the ensuing prayer for deliverance from demonic powers that most of the villagers decided to follow the Imam's example. In 5 days, 2,000 Muslims became Christians, and 5 churches were planted to help the people in their new-found faith."
Source: Danie Vermeulen
, DAWN Africa; by way of Friday Fax 2002, Issue 2
Thoughts to Ponder
"We must work passionately and infatigably to bridge the gulf between our scientific progress and our moral progress. One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
"That God is omnipresent ' everywhere equally present ' is a source of continual wonder for me. God's omnipresence is, as one man has put it, one of those million-gallon truths that, try as we might, we simply cannot contain with our quart-sized heads. But within the scope of God's omnipresence, we know from both Scripture and experience that God is not present everywhere for precisely the same purposes. For example, while he is always everywhere present to sustain (for in him 'all things hold together,' Col 1:17), from time to time he is also present in various places to accomplish other purposes, such as to discipline, to punish, to bless, or to empower. We are not satisfied knowing God is there. We want to know He is near."
- C. J. Mahaney
Excerpts from the Winter 2002 (Vol 5, No 1) issue of the Pneuma Review
The Pneuma Review is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders.
From the article by Jon Ruthven, "Upon This Foundation: Ephesians 2:20 and the Gift of Prophecy"
those who argue that certain gifts of the Spirit have ceased, are increasingly using an argument-from-analogy from Paul's epistle to the believers in Ephesus.
This paper offers a biblical rebuttal to the cessationist use of Ephesians 2:20 as an argument for the cessation of prophecy, and, by extension, the other so-called "miraculous" gifts of the Holy Spirit. After a statement of the issue itself, this paper examines the only significant "anti-cessationist" response offered so far, that of Wayne Grudem, and then goes on to offer some alternative responses of its own.
Ephesians 2:19-22 [NKJV]
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Status of the Problem
One of the few remaining New Testament texts to which cessationists appeal for support of their position is Eph 2:20. The argument-by-analogy is along these lines: since apostles and prophets appear as the "foundation" of the "temple" or church, and since each course of stones in this temple metaphorically represent successive generations of believers throughout church history, then these "foundation" gifts necessarily passed away before the second generation of Christianity.
From the frequency and extent this argument is made in cessationist circles, one would assume that there would be a serious reply from their theological dialogue partners, the Pentecostals and charismatics. Pentecostal or charismatic scholars generally have failed to adequately treat this cessationist argument to any significant degree.
Wayne Grudem's Rebuttal to the Cessationist Use of Ephesians 2:20
Wayne Grudem is the only non-cessationist scholar I can discover who deals with the cessationist argument from Eph 2:20 in any detail.6 Quite reasonably, then, Grudem's response stands as the default Pentecostal/charismatic position recognized by cessationists, along with their perceptions about its strengths and weaknesses.
Though he presents his position as an attempt to mediate between charismatics and cessationists, it appears that Grudem's defense on this point shares traditional cessationist presuppositions about the nature of apostles and of the "foundation" in Ephesians 2:20. Grudem seems to agree with cessationists who argue against the continuation of the gift of prophecy in that the gift is somehow identical with the first generation ("foundation level") of Christian prophets: that necessarily when these particular prophets died, the gift of prophecy died with them. The same, he would also agree, would be true of apostles.
Grudem, however, ingeniously tries to deny the death of prophecy by claiming that only a special category of prophets is described in Eph. 2:20, namely, that they are "foundational," and hence, cease because these particular prophets are in fact, apostles! He also offers an alternate possibility that perhaps these "foundational" prophets were an elite group that received and uttered apostolic-level revelation. He agrees, then, with cessationists that apostles, at least the original twelve (or thirteen, depending on how Paul is included) stood to be unique in that they are seen as the authoritative bearers of foundational Christian doctrine, which they wrote into scripture. Accordingly, Grudem sees the apostle/prophets of Eph 2:20 as the equivalent of the canonical prophets of the Old Testament, whose pronouncements and writings also held ultimate religious authority in that they later became scripture.
On this view, and to preserve the continuation of Christian prophecy, Grudem must then define NT prophecy in two categories. 1) Agreeing with traditional cessationists, the first class of prophecy, which was to cease within the first generation, was a kind of interim canon awaiting its written form, while, 2) the second class of prophecy was represented by the "less authoritative type of prophecy indicated in 1 Corinthians."
Understandably, this novel defense has received a heated response from cessationists, who wish to deny any "two-level" gift of prophecy that Grudem describes. Without going into their argument in detail, they seek to prove that all manifestations of the gift of prophecy in the first generation will cease together, since prophecy is divine revelation, and such revelation must necessarily be enscripturated.
Grudem therefore finds himself in an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, it is crucial to restrict this class of men to the "foundational" and unrepeatable. This is because he sees apostles (and this first class of NT prophets) as the New Testament counterparts of Old Testament prophets. Therefore they "were able to speak and write words that had absolute divine authority," that is, in the canon of scripture. Because of the central apostolic role as scripture writers, and because the canon of the NT is closed, the gift or "office" of apostleship must necessarily cease. On the other hand, "apostleship" is seamlessly listed along with the other "miraculous" spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12:28 and Eph 4:11, gifts which Grudem insists must continue in the church! In short, Grudem's views of apostleship, prophecy, revelation and scripture leave him vulnerable to the charge that he is fatally inconsistent in his defense of continuing spiritual gifts.
But does scripture itself view the NT apostles and prophets this way? Did they themselves understand they were repositories of unwritten or uncanonized scripture? Or is this notion of these biblical figures held by Grudem and his cessationist counterparts a misrepresentation of scripture?
The Protestant Tradition and Its Bearing on the "Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets" in Evangelical Interpretation
While we may lay out several responses, a brief review of the historically conditioned origin of "foundational" cessationist doctrine may be illuminating. It appears that this Evangelical cessationist tradition underlying this view of Eph 2:20 has been uncritically passed down from the polemics of the Reformers against the Papacy.
To undercut Papal claims to ultimate religious authority via apostolic succession, the Reformers failed to examine adequately the NT roles of apostle and prophet. Rather they assumed the premises of Rome and simply transferred the crown and the authority of the 16th century Pope to the first century apostles! The apostles, then on this view, the receivers of unique divine revelation, canonized their ultimate ecclesiastical and doctrinal authority, not in papal encyclicals, but in the New Testament. The Reformers, and particularly the scholastic theologians who followed them, further protected the "Papal" authority of the New Testament by denying any additional divine revelation based implicitly on the "foundational" role of prophets in Eph 2:20.
Since this is the historical backdrop, it is not surprising that Protestants have rejected the notion of a continuing gift of apostleship, or a gift of divine prophetic revelation. The gift of apostleship represents the specter of apostolic succession and the Papacy. The latter has been thought to imply the claim to ultimate, but constantly evolving and increasingly contaminated, ex cathedra doctrinal authority over the Church. For this reason, and not for biblical reasons, have the cessation of apostles and prophets become a "foundational" doctrine for traditional Protestant theology. The application of this polemic, then, could be easily and uncritically transferred to anyone advocating the continuation of spiritual gifts. Cessationistic Protestantism becomes particularly explosive when arguing against proponents who advocate contemporary apostles and prophets.
An Alternative View of the "Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets"
If this Evangelical tradition fails to reflect an adequate interpretation of Ephesians 2:20, then what alternative can be offered? We would argue that, "the foundation" of Eph 2:20 represents the recurring apostolic and prophetically-inspired "foundational confession," as Peter's "great confession" (Mt 16:16-19), which is revealed to and confessed by all Christians at all times. Peter's confession is universally considered to be both paradigmatic and parenetic.
It is likely that the earlier Christian tradition of Peter's confession shaped the Eph 2:20 metaphor in that both share at least four key elements: 1) the prophetic revelation from the Father was stressed as the means by which Peter knew that, 2) Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (the central point of the discussion); 3) the "foundation" language of building Christ's church "on this rock"; 4) the archetypal role of Peter results from his prophetic confession: a) the play on words for "rock," connecting his prophetic confession to the "foundation" and building of the church; b) the fact that he was given the keys to the kingdom: not only that he had access himself at that point, but also the role he had in unlocking the kingdom to the Christo-centric prophetic experiences of the Samaritans in Acts 8 and Gentiles in Acts 10.
The debate on the precise meaning of this last phrase is historic: what does "rock" mean? Peter's leadership? Peter's confession, which somehow "unlocked" the kingdom to all, and could "bind" and "loose" sins? That Peter's confession was a paradigm for all to confess, thereby unlocking the kingdom and being built into the church? Was the rock Christ himself ("this petra," distinguished from Petros)? If the latter, then how are the revelation, the confession and the keys related to the rock/foundation and the building?
What seems clear from all of this, however, is that since this story is written in canonical scripture, it has some claim upon the reader other than to relay historical information. It would seem that Peter's prophetic confession is in some sense paradigmatic and archetypal for all who would be believers in Christ. The pericope would also seem to suggest that this revealed confession unlocks the kingdom to the confessor, and that the whole assembly of confessors, the church, would rest and be built up on the rock'either this confession about Christ, or Christ himself (Rom 15:20; 1 Cor 3:11), or both.
Ephesians 2:20 relates to Peter's confession along the four points above. 1) The "apostles and prophets" (those who receive and confess revelation) parallel "Peter" and the importance of his "revelation" about 2) Christ, the "cornerstone" (chief of the "foundation"). 3) The temple is then "built" upon this foundation "in Him." "I [Christ] will build my church." 4) The archetypal ("foundational") roles of the apostles and prophets result from their prophetic confession: a) the play on words for "rock" ("cornerstone"), connecting their prophetic confession to the "foundation," b) just as Peter now may unlock the kingdom because of his revelation, so now, also both Jew and Gentile have access "by one Spirit" (Eph 2:18). Note that the Gentiles once were "excluded from citizenship in Israel" (2:12) but now are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people" (2:19).
But how are both Jews and Gentiles brought into this citizenship/kingdom, or what activity is involved to enter? Through the work of Christ all have "access to the Father by one Spirit" (2:18). In the NT era "Spirit" was virtually synonymous with "prophecy." The next verse continues on about inclusion into God's household, which is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (personifications of revelation, as Peter's "foundational" confession), with Christ as the chief cornerstone" (also implied in the Peter's confession pericope). Here the metaphor changes slightly where all are being built "in Him," "in the Lord," "in Him," (thrice: vv. 21 and 22, clearly a "revelatory" state as we know Him "according to the Spirit") and finally, "being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (another revelatory reference).
On this suggestion, then, that the "foundation" of apostles and prophets represents a parallel expression of Peter's confession with the subsequent inclusion of the Gentiles, we offer an interpretation of Eph 2:20. Contrary to the cessationist or exclusionist notion that a certain type of revelation accredited the status of apostles and prophets, a much deeper dynamic is portrayed in this passage: that the "foundation of the apostles and prophets" symbolizes a way by which everyone on earth may enter into God's temple/kingdom/covenant/citizenship/household, that is, by the Spirit-revealed confession of Christ Jesus.
The passage exists not to prove the Papal authority and uniqueness of the apostles and prophets, but rather to express the "foundational" means of entering divine fellowship: "No one can confess 'Jesus is Lord!' except by the Spirit." This confession, then, is the "foundation of the apostles and prophets!"
Certainly this apostolic and prophetic revelation is not limited to this group in Eph 2:20, unless of course, Paul is speaking of all believers as being "foundational!" In 1:15-23 Paul's goal for the reader (and not merely for first century Ephesians if this book is to be regarded as canonical for the church), via his prayer, is that "the Father may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know ["experience first hand"] Him better." Paul continues by further describing "wisdom and revelation": "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know ["experience first hand"] the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power [dunamis'most often in the NT, "miracle working power"]," which is like God's resurrection power. Paul wishes the revelation to the reader to move to the extent that they know that Christ is exalted above all powers and nations using the language of Psalm 2. Paul then, seems to be setting the goal for revelation of the inclusion of all nations under Christ, who in the church "fills everything in every way." In other words, it is clear that both canonically and therefore normatively, all believers are to share in the "revelation" of the Gentile inclusion in the church. Paul does not pray that the reader be given the "New Testament" of "wisdom and revelation," but the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation," the content of which is both clear and propositional.
Another passage, 3:14-19, illustrates the normative, shared and continuing revelation expected for all believers. Again, Paul prays, indicating the ideal for the readers, that the Father "may strengthen you with power [dunamis, again] through His Spirit [of revelation and wisdom] in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts [center of spiritual perception] through faith [not in this passage through the NT, but via a subjective awareness/assurance] . . . .that being rooted and established in love [for the Jews or Gentiles?] you may have power together with all the saints to grasp [the extent] of the love of Christ [again, the unity of Jew and Gentile?] . . . that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Cessationists restrict this kind of outpouring only for the "foundation gifts" of apostles and prophets.
. . .
See the Winter 2002 issue of the
Pneuma Review for the rest of this article by Dr. Ruthven
Endnotes appear with the full article in the Pneuma Review
The Development Of Early Christian Pneumatology: with special reference to Luke-Acts
. Robert Menzies. Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England: 1991).
Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts
. Robert Menzies. Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series #6, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England: 1994), Pp. 290.
Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience
. William and Robert Menzies. Zondervan (Grand Rapids, 2000), Pp. 233.
A quiet revolution has been taking place around the world. There are now over 530 million Pentecostal/charismatic Christians (David Barrett, International Bulletin of Missionary Research
, Jan/01). It was the church growth movement which first brought this explosive growth to the attention of Christian leaders. The focus on what they termed the "Baptism in the Holy Spirit," based on Luke and Acts, was the driving force behind it, and secondarily, the emphasis on spiritual gifts as found in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (Chs. 12-14). From a mere trickle of scholarly research, the last thirty years has seen a river of literature on this topic (see Charles E. Jones, where one finds over 11,000 entries in The Charismatic Movement
, Scarecrow Press, 1994). This change has been underscored by the founding of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology
in 1992 and published by the prestigious Sheffield Academic Press, in England.
Even though they are relative newcomers, classical Pentecostal scholars have been major contributors to the scholarly dialogue. One individual stands out above the others both in quantity and quality: Dr. Robert Menzies. After publishing a series of articles and book reviews, his first book to be published was his doctoral dissertation: The Development Of Early Christian Pneumatology: with special reference to Luke-Acts
, from Sheffield Academic Press, 1991. This work caught the attention of two of the most prominent world-class evangelical scholars on Luke-Acts, James Dunn and Max Turner. Dunn writes "Pentecostal biblical scholarship has become increasingly a factor to be reckoned with, as its contributions have grown in confidence and weight...So far none commands more respect than the Aberdeen thesis of Robert Menzies." Dunn closes by saying, "this is a work of significant and substantial scholarship whose strengths cannot be done full justice to in a brief review," (Evangelical Quarterly
, 66:2, 1994, pp. 174-6). Max Turner pays tribute to Menzies in his book, Power From On High: The Spirit in Israel's Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts
. Sheffield Academic Press, 2000. In the preface Turner writes about Menzies, "His rigorous and perceptive case caused me to reconsider the evidence," (p.11). This in turn, resulted in Turner publishing a series of articles and then his book (listed above). While both Dunn and Turner take issue with certain areas of Menzies work, they pay tribute to his efforts.
The above work by Menzies does set a new standard for those who are keeping up with recent works on pneumatology. There are three sections. The first provides an overview of the pneumatological perspectives of intertestamental Judaism. This includes literature from the Diaspora, Palestinian, Qumran and rabbinic sources. The conclusion made is that with rare exception, this literature "consistently identifies experience of the Spirit with prophetic inspiration," (p.112). The second and largest section provides an in-depth study of the prophetic pneumatology of Luke. Here, Menzies presents a careful argument showing that while Paul attributes soteriological functions to the Spirit, Luke does not. For Luke, the purpose of the gift of the Spirit is to equip the church for their prophetic vocation. Luke describes the church as a prophetic community empowered for witness by the Spirit (p.279). The final and shortest section discusses the origin of Paul's pneumatology, which differs from Luke and the early church, but is complementary.
Menzies first work was later published as a monograph in the Journal of Pentecostal Studies
Supplement Series 6. This made the work available to a larger audience, at a more affordable price, and less daunting for the non-specialist. Almost all of the foreign language material has been translated, the footnotes and discussion of secondary literature greatly reduced, and, most important, the two chapters on Paul have been replaced with chapters addressing contemporary questions. The new material covers the issues of subsequence, and evidential tongues. One is surprised at the creative insight Menzies provides to these areas!
As significant as the above works are, it may well be the third publication (Spirit and Power
) which will impact the average believer. While Dr. Robert Menzies wrote almost all of the chapters, his father wrote the opening chapter as well as the postscript in chapter 13 and the conclusion. Of the 15 chapters, 8 are revisions of previously published material, and seven are new. There are two sections. The first provides theological foundations for the Pentecostal view. Included are replies to both Dunn and Turner. For those with a theological education, chapter three will come as a surprise ("Hermeneutics: The Quiet Revolution"). There has been a distinct change in evangelical attitudes towards biblical narrative, as can be seen by the documentation provided.
Part two covers theological affirmations. One finds Menzies at his best, demonstrating creative insight, spiritual counsel and sound research. Here, one can find material on such areas as subsequence, tongues, signs and wonders, spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.
Having a graduate degree in biblical studies I found this to be a most unusual book. Spirit and Power
is the best presentation of a full orbed biblical theology, from a classical Pentecostal viewpoint, that I have come across. The scholarship is balanced with a pastoral heart. Dr. Menzies honors James Dunn and Max Turner for their contributions before discussing areas of disagreement. In other places Menzies takes great care to explain why other parts of the evangelical world hold the views they do. There are a surprising number of wonderful spiritual insights (I would often share these with my wife as I read through the work). The documentation is superb, leading me to read every footnote and look up almost every biblical reference. The pastoral heart and presentation of scholarly material sets a new standard for the body of Christ. He models how to interact with opposing viewpoints and yet leave the reader sensing Christ's love (Not an easy feat!).
The three publications of Menzies and especially Spirit and Power
challenge every believer to reassess their view of the baptism in the Spirit and just what it means to be empowered by the Spirit. While the main purpose is power to witness (Acts 1:5,8) there is a depth of teaching to be gleaned from scripture (both Old and New Testament). Pentecostal and charismatics will be challenged to both broaden and deepen their understanding of this whole area. If the truth were admitted, few understand the basis for their beliefs beyond a few verses of scripture, and have difficulty dialoguing with those who are of a different persuasion. Now they have an excellent resource that models how to share with those who disagree in a way that honors everyone.
Reviewed by Grant Hochman
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